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Help Educate Girls in India

by Snehalaya 'Home of Love'
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Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
The girls are really engaging with the campaign
The girls are really engaging with the campaign

Thank you for your support, we really appreciate you investing in our girls’ futures. You are amongst good company, the most famous girls’ education activist Malala Youszafi is also supporting our girls through her Malala Fund’s Educate. Empower. Lead. campaign.

She has chosen to support us in promoting education based on our proven track record in running 18 projects in rural India which give us unique access to many girls at risk of commercial sexual exploitation, which the campaign is seeking to reduce. Nearly 200 girls rescued from trafficking, sexual abuse and orphaned by HIV live in our Rehabilitation Center children’s shelter. Another 1,000 are engaged in our Balbhavan project which runs community centers in urban slums with after school classes, extracurricular activities and vocational training.

Since September, nearly 200 of these girls aged 13-17 have been attending regular workshops and activities to promote the importance of staying in education. We have also been educating them on gender equality, sex education, self-defence, their rights and the national and international laws and conventions that protect them and entitle them to an equal education. The overall aim is to empower them with the confidence and knowledge to become leaders in the education agenda within India and beyond.

Highlights so far have included them coming up with their own solutions to some of the barriers they face, for example slum dwellers and rescued girls have difficulty in providing the required documentation for entering higher education. They have written letters and recorded videos to share their suggestions and insights to issues like these with education ministers and leaders.

We have also given them the opportunity to hear directly from those who have experienced exploitation themselves. These are the sex workers we work with in our other projects who have been trafficked or forced into prostitution as a result of their poor socio-economic background. As a staggering 75% of them are illiterate, we felt that it would be much more powerful and effective to ask them to share their own stories and impact of missing out on an education with the girls themselves. Their talks have been very powerful. Although many of our children come from and are familiar with red-light areas through our work, hearing first hand from women without education who felt that sex work was the only option for them has made a real impact on them. The women also did a great job in stressing how education is important in creating more choice and avoiding the same destiny as them.

We have lots more to come. After Christmas we will be taking the campaign to our local red-light areas and other communities where girls are most at risk. We will also be running competitions, visits to higher education institutions, hearing more talks from successful women and participating in meetings with change and policy-makers until the end of the campaign in July. We hope that by educating as many girls as possible on their rights and encouraging them to complete their education we will maintain our record of no underage sex workers in our district.

We hope you will continue to work alongside us and Malala to support our girls and give them the education they are entitled to. Thank you so much.

Education should be fun
Education should be fun
Our sex workers know how important education is
Our sex workers know how important education is
This is our third education campaign with Malala
This is our third education campaign with Malala

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Saba swapped a wedding dress for a welding iron
Saba swapped a wedding dress for a welding iron

Thank you for supporting our organisation and projects which are rooted in campaigning and acting to empower children at risk through providing education.

When as a teenager, our founder Girish approached female sex workers to ask how he could help them they pointed to their children. Resigned to their own fates they wanted better for them, they wanted them to have the education that they had missed out on in the hope that it would give them brighter futures. From that day, when Girish started Snehalaya by teaching two children, education has been at the heart of our work in tackling the broader issues, such as commercial sexual exploitation of children, facing our society.  As a donor to our cause we know you believe in the value and power of girls’ education.

We established our Balbhavan projects to stop slums from being the recruitment grounds for pimps and brothel keepers and we are proud to report that by promoting and providing educational support there are no longer underage sex workers in our district. Also, thanks to you, last year our team was able to conduct 4,505 home and 2,100 school visits. Through these they identified and counselled 50 school drop-outs to return to education, helped another 308 pupils with their admissions to good schools and colleges and awarded 130 of our brightest evening class students scholarships of financial support for education materials.

We focus our work in areas where girls are at most risk, using education to prevent their exploitation, which is so important when you consider:

  • 27,994 women in India were rescued from trafficking between 2014-2016

  • There was a 20% rise of women and children trafficked in India in 2016

  • Only 7% of trafficked women are rescued

  • 80% of trafficked Indians are women and girls forced into commercial sex work

  • One million Indian women are married before they reach 18

  • 75,000 children in Maharashtra, a large proportion of them girls, don’t attend school

Following the success of last year’s #StandwithMalala campaign where we reached a staggering 27,000 people, including the uneducated girls and local leaders in our city slums, we are pleased to announce we are once again supporting Malala Fund in a year-long campaign.

Educate, Empower, Lead will engage with girls aged 13-17 at risk or the victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, to inspire them to stand up for their rights to their own education. We will also empower them to challenge the barriers to equality in education and give them the dais to advocate for it with key influencers and decision makers.

We aim to reach wider and provide a safe haven, counselling, legal aid, vocational training, education and alternatives to sex work to those living in our own shelter, within five red light and seven slum areas and girls living in other low socio-economic communities through our 18 empowerment projects and focussed outreach work. We’ll also be promoting and opening up opportunities for further and higher education and vocational training through our own projects and in collaboration with local authorities, NGOs and educational institutions. The aim is to use education to fight the commercial sexual exploitation of those at risk from opportunists.

Too many girls like Deepa, orphaned when her mother died of a HIV-related illness, are forced into prostitution. She was 15 when we rescued her from a brothel and re-enrolled her in school, today she is a fully-trained nurse.

“Educate a girl and you educate a whole community”

Malala Youszafi

One of the girls who joined us on our previous Malala campaign trail to share her story is Saba, who will be joining us again as a peer mentor to help us deliver this new campaign.

Saba lives in a predominantly Muslim slum with her widowed mother and four siblings. When her father’s family started applying pressure on her to get married it was our team she approached. As our staff are drawn from and based in these communities, they are best placed to understand and address culturally sensitive issues and provide solutions. They counselled and helped Saba convince her family that she should be allowed to pursue her dream of studying engineering. She has just entered her second year of a degree course and has become our own personal Malala, inspiring others to stand up for their rights to a full education.

There are still many more children who need our support, stand with Malala and Snehalaya today and help us to reach further to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of girls through education.

Proud to #StandwithMalala
Proud to #StandwithMalala

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Top of the class!
Top of the class!

A Winner All The Way

Sonali is feeling on top of the world at the moment and this is reflected in her beaming smile since she learned she had passed her 10th standard exam achieving a 78% result. 

And we're all feeling pretty proud of her here at Snehalaya, proud but not surprised. Sonali has always stood out as a model student with her good nature and determination to succeed in all she attempts. Her dedication to her education so that that she can realise her ambition to become an IPS (Indian Police Service) officer has been breathtaking.

It's all a far cry from her roots...

Sonali and her three siblings are the children of a female sex worker. Her father died when she was a baby, leaving it hard for her mother to give the attention needed in the red light area, where the children were at risk of opportunists and exploitation. Her older sisters went on to marry but this didn't ease her mother's concern of what might become of her remaining son and daughter.

Snehalaya was conducting a survey in the area and came across Sonali and her family's plight. It was clear at once that her mother was unable to meet her children's health and educational needs, so with her blessing Sonali and her brother were admitted into Snehalaya seven years ago.

Since then Sonali has come a long way, she remains very focused in all her endeavors at Snehalaya, whether that be in the classroom or on the sports field. A keen sports woman she excels in karate, football, kabbadi and cricket. She applies the same concentration and energy as she does to her educational studies to succeed and be a winner.
She recently won a bronze medal for coming first in Judo.

Thanks to your continued support you are helping Sonali to be one step nearer to achieving her dream of not just being an IPS officer but being a great one.

A Healthy Option

It's 1 am in our new 50-bed hospital which is delivering quality care treatments and medicines to people from poor economic backgrounds who are affected by HIV and AIDS, in surroundings normally reserved for people receiving private care. The patients range from those suffering from complications brought on by the virus to those that are more gravely ill.

All is quiet apart from the bleeping coming from the lifesaving equipment in ICU.

Moving silently but efficiently through the wards are the angels who have recently been trained as part of our newest initiative, our Bedside Assistance Training programme.

This can entail monitoring the patients care needs, administering the necessary drugs and changing drips and feeds when required.

Part of the team is our very own beneficiary 18 year old Pramila. Her ready smile and easy going nature with her patients disguise a trauma that befell her in the not so distant past.

To understand her triumph over adversity its perhaps best to go back nearly two years ago to see how a young girl with limited choices would later go on to make important decisions that would test her strength, courage and go on to shape her future.

Pramila comes from very poor family and was admitted into a government hostel in the hope she would be better provided for there. While the institution provided the basics, the prison-like atmosphere prompted her along with six other girls, to break out in the dead of night.

While most of the others ran back to their families, Pramila found the 30-year-old married man she had been having an affair with before she entered the home. The 15-year-old moved in with the father of a 13-year-old. It was here she lived until she was found by her father six months later.

He promptly returned her to the hostel and filed a rape complaint against her ‘boyfriend’. A district judge ruled that her previous hostel was not a safe home for this vulnerable girl. He issued a court order that she be sent to one of the best homes available, with a reputation for keeping its beneficiaries safe, happy and secure, that home was Snehalaya.

Pramila moved to our Rehab Centre 10 months ago and has settled in really well. She took to the stage at our Ganpati Chaturthi festival to sing in front of our other 250 children. As her heavenly voice drifted across the campus it was impossible to tell that she had lengthy and potentially traumatic legal actions to face in the not too distant future.

Fortunately our counselors and staff are well trained in this area and helped her prepare. It’s thanks to their support that when her parents, fearing recriminations in the community they are all from, suggested she drop the case and instead become the second wife of her ‘boyfriend’, she was adamant that they proceed and he face justice.

The cared for has now become the carer, Pramila's father was recently admitted into the hospital and she now lovingly makes sure he is as comfortable as possible.

She is fully committed to her studies and hoping for a future where she can continue to help others.

It's thanks to your support that we have built the reputation we have for providing safe care and education for vulnerable girls like these. On behalf of all of our children, thank you for choosing to help us.

PS Good news! From 27 June to 8 August, our rescue project, which supports our work with women and girls at risk from Commercial Sexual Expolitation and Trafficking (CSET), will receive 50% match funding as part of our #HerVoice campaign to end gender discrimination and violence. Click on the link below to give further support to India's vulnerable women and girls. 

We're bowled over by her results
We're bowled over by her results

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You're giving girls like Nikita more confidence
You're giving girls like Nikita more confidence

We know you have chosen to support our organisation because you believe in equality in education. While many of our girls are now receiving regular schooling for the first time, your support is also helping us to find alternative ways for others to continue their education, build confidence and gain independence. Here we use the words of education activist, Malala Yousafzai to show you exactly what your support means to our girls.

Let us make our future now and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality – Malala 

Growing up in a small village, Kavita dreamt of leading a self-sufficient life with a loving family and doting husband. While studying to become a teacher, she became friends with Anil. When their friendship turned into love they decided to marry and it seemed her dreams would be realised. However, Anil’s family was against the relationship based on the poor financial status of Kavita’s family and refused the union.

Unable to marry Anil, her family arranged her marriage to another man. Unknown to them, he was undergoing treatment for psychological problems and soon started harassing her mentally and physically. As the atrocities became worse Kavita could bear it no more and she fled to her father for help. Unable to support her, he brought her to Snehalaya where she was provided shelter, food, clothing, psychological support and legal aid. She soon started working with us to help support other women however she still dreamt of being independent so we encouraged and supported her to continue her studies. With your help, Kavita is currently studying for the civil service examination that will provide her with a well-paid government job and the self-sufficient life she dreamed of.

We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave - to embrace the strengths within themselves and realize their full potential – Malala 

When Sanika was born with a birthmark and hair growth on the skin around her right eye, her illiterate mother believed she was cursed by evil spirits and took her to an assortment of holy men to ‘cure’ her. When Sanika was about 8, one sadhu advised her mother to leave her at an orphanage, but none would admit her because of the birthmark. When he heard this story, our founder Girish immediately agreed to give her a home at Snehalaya.

Unsurprisingly, when she arrived she was suffering from an inferiority complex and was embarrassed by her appearance. She was encouraged to focus on her studies and by doing so her confidence began to grow. She became a model student, popular with her class and dormitory mates, and joined in with many extracurricular activities. Her hard work paid off with excellent marks in her 10th standard exams which meant she could enrol in college to study commerce. One of our supporters, a chartered accountant, seeing the potential in Sanika, is providing extra tuition which is bringing about great results as her skills and results continue to improve and she will soon take her final year degree exam after which she plans to become a bank officer.

With your support, we are helping many like Sanika to focus on education to rise above discrimination and ignorance and achieve their full potential.

If you don’t focus on the future generation it means you are destroying your country – Malala

Nikita was just three when our Childline team found her at a railway station, unable to find her family they brought her to our shelter home. When she started school her teacher, Reshma, noticed that she was isolating herself from the other students, avoiding joining in with activities and not listening in class. Slowly, she won her trust sharing how she too had lost her mother at an early age, which helped create a bond with the youngster allowing her to gently suggest how she could to improve her behaviour. Now aged 10, the difference in Nikita is pronounced, her confidence has grown, she follows the school rules, she joins in more, her marks have improved significantly and she recently gave a presentation to 300 students and teachers!

Your support is giving our youngsters the confidence to build the best possible futures, regardless of their past experiences.

Thank you for helping all the Kavitas, Sanikas and Nikitas to secure the education that will allow them to thrive in life.

Our mission - equality in education for every girl
Our mission - equality in education for every girl
You are changing destinies through education
You are changing destinies through education

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Dancing is Rani's dream
Dancing is Rani's dream

Happy New Year! As we enter 2017 we would like to sincerely thank you for choosing to support Snehalaya over the past year especially Girls Education.

And what a year it was for us as we stood with Malala to improve the education of girls in our rural district, where 98% of girls fail to complete their full 12 years of school education. We are confident that through sharing the documentary of Malala Youszafi’s struggle to secure her own education to over 30,000 people we have we have empowered our girls to do the same. You can read more about our Malala campaign and how we helped Anjun who dreams of being a social worker via the link below.

This year we also celebrated a 100% pass rate of our shelter home 12th standard students, with top marks secured by one of our girls. We are hoping that role models like Maya, who is our first beneficiary to follow in the footsteps of many of our staff to complete a Masters in Social Work, will inspire ore of our girls to aspire to higher education. Her initial motivation was to work with us when she graduated but during her studies she realised she could offer more by first learning from other NGOs and social work organizations and she is now working for Sampark, a charity for women and children, in Mumbai. She visited us for our annual reunion in November to tell us how she is doing and to catch up with her younger sister Meena who is currently completing a degree in commerce with the hope of becoming an accountant.

As she continues her studies locally, Meena is also acting as a mentor to our 30 12th standard children at our shelter home. They and many more in our slum night schools are busy preparing and revising for their exams which take place in March. We also have tutors who come in each night to focus on specific subjects to ensure they are exam ready and we are confident that this extra tuition will pay off when their results are announced in June. With that in mind, we are also starting to help them prepare for their college choices and applications for further study.

Many like Maya, Meena and those in our ‘Dream Girls’ video have been focused on their career paths from an early age while others still need guidance and support in choosing the next step on their educational journey. We are running several career counselling, interviews skills and application workshops to make sure they are full prepared and have the skills to make them stand out from the crowd and secure the right place for them.

We are fortunate that there are many colleges in Ahmednagar catering to all professions easily accessible to our shelter home girls. However, there is far more choice in subjects and well known institutions a few hours away but study and hostel fees can make them seem unattainable at times, which is where your support can really help. We don’t want to have to restrict our girls’ dreams geographically and your continued support means we don’t have to.

Thank you for allowing our girls to aim high and wishing you a successful, heatlhy and happy 2017!

Teaching is Aarti's dream
Teaching is Aarti's dream
Social work is Deepa's dream
Social work is Deepa's dream
Maya (L) living the dream. Little sis looks proud
Maya (L) living the dream. Little sis looks proud

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Organization Information

Snehalaya 'Home of Love'

Location: Ahmednagar, Maharashtra - India
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Twitter: @Snehalaya
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Snehalaya Home of Love
London, Greater London United Kingdom
$35,086 raised of $45,000 goal
 
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